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Jagdeo absent from court for private criminal charge

Bharrat Jagdeo

Former President Bharrat Jagdeo was a no-show at the Whim Magistrates’ Court on Monday to answer a private criminal charge of uttering racially divisive remarks.

At least 100 supporters of the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) stood outside the  Whim Magistrates’ Court.  While they cleared the way for Attorney-at-Law, Christopher Ram and his team to enter and exit, they booed them.

The case has been put off until May 25, 2015 by Magistrate Charlyn Artiga to allow for the complainant’s lawyers to respond to arguments by Jagdeo’s defence team.

The charge requires the former Guyanese leader to personally appear in court to plead guilty or not guilty.

But Defence Lawyer, Senior Counsel Bernard Dos Santos told reporters that the matter was not properly sworn, the summons was never served and the charge did not disclose any offence.  He said even if a summons was served, it would have been irregular because it was not sworn by a magistrate.

Ram told the court that attempts to serve the summons proved futile.

He reiterated that Ram engaged in a puerile attempt to muzzle Jagdeo in what amounted to be an attack on his constitutional right to free speech.

Ram told  Demerara Waves Online News that he was now more hopeful that Jagdeo would have to appear in court. “I think we feel even more confident. Jagdeo can run but eventually he will have to submit himself to the court,” he said.

Jagdeo’s battery of lawyers also included Mursalin Bacchus, Ian and Adrian Annamyah, and Perry Gossai.

If the case goes to trial and Jagdeo is convicted, he could be fined GUY$100,000 and jailed for a maximum of two years.  The Representation of the People Act also prohibits a person convicted of such an offence from being a member of the National Assembly, local democratic organ or the holder of any constitutional or statutory office.

Ram filed the private criminal charge, citing Jagdeo’s remarks at Babu John, Port Mourant in March at the commemorative event for late Presidents Cheddi and Janet Jagan.  He quoted Jagdeo as saying then that “The opposition consistently shout about the racism of the PPP but they practise racism. The opposition beat drums at six in the morning and say let us throw out those coolie people.”